The BJCA website is built around a database of events, players and results. Using a database allows links to be created between the various elements. It also makes it possible to produce standard layouts for reporting tournament and match results, which in turn enables users to get the information they are after quickly and easily. As a useful side effect, the various Berksire team managers can use the comprehensive data to help them select teams based on published results.
As the website manager, developer, data administrator and editor, the buck clearly stops with me. Tournament organizers and team managers send me results, usually in either spreadsheet or document format. I cut-and-paste the text to create a file in a specific format/layout which can then be loaded into the database.
Having received results, I will often write a short article for the News page, and possibly update the home page with a quick bullet point. Often however, the results come with a report which helps to add a bit of colour, and I will almost always include this in the News and/or results page.
The main points that might be of interest / concern:
- I publish all tournament results, which include children's names and schools and ages, as and when they are sent to me by the tournament organiser. If you wish any or all of this information to be listed as "anonymous", just let me know.
- The website also contains photos taken at tournaments and county team matches. All photos are anonymous - there are no captions. Specifically, there are no photos of winners holding up trophies since the photo subject could then be easily identified from the tournament results listing. Again, if you do not wish even anonymous photos of your child to appear, then just let me know.
- Website visits are logged with date/time and number of pages visited (actually, only some pages, such as the calendar and results pages). These log records are anonymous (but see below re MyWebSite registered users). To date, I haven't bothered to try and analyse site visit patterns, just visits and page hits per week.
- Session cookies are used to track site visits.
- For MyWebSite registered users, a permanent cookie is used to enable the site to customise itself according to your preferences, e.g. highlight those players or schools you have specified an interest in. The date/time of your most recent visit is logged - this enables the changes since your last visit to be displayed on the homepage.
- No data held in the site database (which includes the visit log, and all
registered user information) is made available
to anyone outside the BJCA. However, internet search engines (e.g. Google) are free to
search and index the site as text.
The data is stored in a MySQL database, and the dynamic pages are built using PHP. MySQL is a database designed with speed and efficiency in mind, rather than a plethora of extra 'features'. PHP is a scripting language with many useful features for interfacing to MySQL databases, and producing HTML output, making it a popular tool for this sort of use.
Put all the above ingredients together and you get a so-called LAMP application: linux, apache, mysql, php. (perl or python are possible alternatives to php - and they begin with p as well!). These components work well together, are all open source, and are available for free, at least for non-commerical use.
To aid accessibility of the website, I endeavour to use only standard HTML and CSS (style sheets). I do not specify a smaller than standard font, as most websites do - it should be up to the client to select the font size that is best for them. Smaller or larger font sizes may be used for headings, or "small print", but these are defined relative to the base font size, not in absolute point terms.
To ensure pages load quickly, I do not use graphics, even to achieve spacing effects for layout purposes - this is done better with CSS, in any case. The only graphic used is the BJCA logo, top right of the home page, which is loaded only once per visit. There is only limited use of colour, but I am considering dusting off my paint brushes shortly! In the final analysis however, I prefer function over form, content over presentation.
I keep a separate To Do list, but, to be honest, I sometimes leave ideas to die, or do something new, not on the list, if it appeals to me or someone asks for it. I very much appreciate any feedback or suggestions you may have.
September 7, 2005